Before 'Smash,' 9 Other Shows That Were Supposed to Save NBC

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From My Name Is Earl to Leno in primetime, a look at the at the shows that were hyped as hits for the last-place network

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Can Smash save NBC? The fourth-place network says it needs the splashy, expensive musical series to be a big hit. ""We're in a pretty bad situation," NBC's entertainment director, Robert Greenblatt, told the New York Times last month. "We desperately need something to catch fire, and we hope this is it."

As desperate as Greenblatt sounds, Smash isn't the first show that's been tasked with "saving" the once-dominant network. For the past several years, series ranging from My Name Is Earl to The Event to a Betty White reality show have all been cast as NBC's last best hope. Here, a look at other series that were hyped as much-needed hits for the network—and how they ended up doing.

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Eleanor Barkhorn is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

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